Colombia

COLOMBIA: The National Agrarian Strike strikes again

From 28 April to 9 May 2014, 3,000 farmers and miners from the Southern Bolivar, Catatumbo, and Cesar regions mobilized near the small town of Norean (three hours north of Barrancabermeja) along with thousands across the country as part of the National Strike, to pressure the national government to negotiate with their leaders in Bogota.  This gathering was the second such mobilization in less than a year, convened after the government failed to fulfill the agreements that ended the first one.


“Excuse us for the inconveniences, we are struggling to guarantee our food sovereignty. Strike for progress. CISCA [Catatumbo
Committee for Social Integration]

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Pray that the Colombian government will fulfill its agreements with small-scale farmers who went on strike in April and May and not pursue a divide and conquer strategy as happened during last year’s agrarian strike.

Epixel* for 18 May 2014

My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Psalm 31:15
Farmers in Suaza-Florencia are attacked by Colombian National Police 2 May 2014 photo María Antonieta Cano @AntonietaCano
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's RevisedCommon Lectionary readings.

COLOMBIA: Five-thousand small-scale farmers arrive in Aguachica




On Tuesday, 6 May 2014, a thousand riot police and military personnel arrived in the small town of Norian, just north of Aguachica, and surrounded five thousand small-scale farmers who had begun to gather there since 1 May.  This display of force and the restriction of movement has been a part of the government’s strategy to clamp down on the growing Agrarian Strike.

Earlier on Wednesday, police detained 300 farmers traveling to Medellin on the pretext that they would be a threat to the residents of Medellin, since the public forces did not have enough personnel.

We are curating stories of the Agrarian Strike here

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Send e-mail to U.S. State Dept this week urging suspension of aid to Colombian military


Take Action: Send a message to the State Department



In the coming week, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) will be issuing a report about the “False Positive” murders committed by the Colombian military entitled “The Rise and Fall of ‘False Positive’ Killings in Colombia.” (“False positives” were executions of civilians by troops who then claimed the victims were guerrillas killed in combat.)  The research in the report shows that of the Colombian School of the Americas/WHINSEC instructors and graduates from 2001 to 2003 for which information was available, twelve of them 48% had either been charged with a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings.  John Lindsay Poland, author of the report, will be meeting with State Department Representatives this week.

Accordingly, FOR, SOAWatch, and other NGOs think it is important at this time for immediate e-mail pressure on the State Department to end assistance to the Colombian military.  In February, General Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar was appointed commander of the Colombian Army.  A former instructor at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas) General Lasprilla previously commanded Task Force Omega, which received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. training, supplies and equipment, under Washington’s ill-conceived drug war and “war on terror.”  In 2006-2007, Lasprilla directed the Ninth Brigade in Colombia’s Huila Department, which was responsible for at least seventy-five killings of civilians under his command.  Lasprilla’s appointment shows that Colombia is continuing its culture of impunity regarding military human rights abuses.

COLOMBIA: Holy Week delegation transforms gate of oppression at Las Pavas

On 16 April 2014 our twelve-person delegation traveled by van, motorized canoe, and foot to the community of Las Pavas.

We arrived at a community in mourning for the death of Rogelio Campos Gonzales.  Also known as “Pipio,” he died on 13 April, after suffering a heart attack.  Those living on the farm struggle with the question, “if the gate [that the palm oil company Aportes San Isidro had installed across the one road leading into Las Pavas to access difficult] did not exist, would it have been possible to avoid this tragedy?”

Even during this difficult time for the community, they received us with love and told and sang their stories.  While we listened, it was difficult to contain our emotions.

The gate for the people of Las Pavas represents oppression, death, isolation, discrimination, humiliation, and prison.  One of the purposes of our trip was to participate in a public action to redefine the gate that the security guards use to control movement from a symbol of oppression into a symbol of hope, peace, and freedom.

 

 

COLOMBIA: The People’s Land Summit, March’s March, and an Ultimatum

 

CAHUCOPANA, a grass-roots campesino organization that formed to defend the land and human rights of the campesinos in north-east Antioquia, has learnt that sometimes you have to leave your home to defend it. CAHUCOPANA asked CPT’s Colombia team to accompany dozens of buses from the department of Antioquia to join about thirty thousand demonstrators in a march in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, on 17 March 2014.

The march was planned to conclude and compliment the People’s Land Summit, also held in Bogotá.  The Summit itself, in which CAHUCOPANA also participated, was in response to the national government’s failure to live up to the commitments it had made as part of negotiations to end a nation-wide general strike in August of 2013. After having first met with and consulting their constituencies, leaders of various social movements and organizations got together for a Summit in Bogotá to decide how they could collectively best organize an appropriate response.

Participants included indigenous, Afro-descendant, campesino, artisanal miner federations, students, and others.  Although the government did consult with agro-industry and other huge stakeholders, it failed to honour its commitment to consult with or address the concerns of those who organized and took part in last year’s general strike. The Summit, therefore, came up with its own criteria and blueprint for an inclusive Colombian agrarian policy.  After the Summit, they presented the government with that blueprint and an ultimatum: comply with our demands by the first week of May, or face the consequences of another paralysing nation-wide civil strike.

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 10, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 10, 2014

Pray for the safety of Sor María Sampayo, a leader of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) in Colombia, who received a threatening phone call this week from someone who identified himself as Alirio Torresa, commander of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.  The members of the OFP are long-time partners of CPT’s Colombia team.


Epixel* for 10 April 2014



Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we
beseech you, give us success! Psalm 118:25

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing
with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary
readings.

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: U.S. and Canadian citizens, ask President Santos to protect member of Organización Femenina Popular who has received death threats.


On 3 April 2014 at 10:30 a.m., Sor María Sampayo, a leader of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) received a threatening phone call from someone who identified himself as Alirio Torresa, commander of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.

He began the call by saying, “You should donate three million pesos [US $1500] to the paramilitary group to mobilize thirty men from Medellin to carry out a social-cleansing plan to eliminate drug addicts, prostitutes, and everything that smells like a guerrilla.” He described to Sor Maria her whereabouts, where she and her daughter worked, and the color of the motorcycle she drove.

When she asked him whether he was demanding a vacuna—paramilitary protection money—he responded, “No, it’s a donation, and you have 120 days to pay.” If she did not donate, he said he would “shoot her, because he knew where she lived.”

Minutes later, he called back demanding to know why she hung up.  This time, Yolanda Barreca, the director of the OFP had answered phone. She told him that threats against Sor María Sampayo are threats against the OFP, to which he responded, “I know who you are; you bastards are going to die too, you can be sure of that.”

COLOMBIA: Social Processes that Transform Reality—the songs of Garzal, Nueva Esperanza, Guayabo, and Las Pavas

“Where does peacebuilding take place?  Where does the transformation of our reality start?  What are some of the tools that we should use to achieve peace?  Where is peace born?  The actual peace process has caused all of the sectors of society to mobilize in favor of an accord that will finalize the conflict, but has also evoked different feelings in these diverse sectors of society about what it means to sign a peace accord with the guerrillas.…

In the communities of Garzal, Nueva Esperanaza, Guayabo, and Las Pavas are some of the processes being built in our country, processes that remain hopeful although distant from the important government decisions.  These communities live their lives between songs, sermons, tears, and concerns, hoping that truth will prevail even lies appear so powerful.  Their songs express the truth of what conflict looks like in our country and describe how the consequences of poor decisions always fall on them.

Song “Mi Acordeón” – Music from the communities of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza.
For more songs from the Colombian agricultural communities Christian Peacemaker Teams accompanies, click here.

COLOMBIA: Get ready for Days of Prayer and Action 5-7 April 2014

Every year, communities across North America come together in solidarity with our Colombia brothers and sisters in an effort to show policymakers that they want real change in U.S. and Canadian policy towards Colombia.  With the Colombian government and the largest guerrilla group, the FARC, currently engaged in peace negotiations, there is renewed hope for an end to the war in Colombia.  After five decades of unspeakable violence, forced displacements, widespread massacres, threats against unionists and human rights activists, and the economic and social exclusion of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, let us join Colombians in saying it is time for peace.  This year's Days of Prayer and Action are April 5-7.

Directly translated, the word “adelante” means “forward.”  “Adelante” can also mean “ahead,” with the implied desire to move past the current situation to something further on, to something beyond.  Peace and justice are not static concepts and neither are the people of Colombia.  With one foot in front of the other, Colombians are already moving ahead and going forward in the work of peace and justice throughout the country.  We hope that you will use the resources below and join with the organizations, churches, and ordinary people in Colombia in their desire and action to move forward.

¡ADELANTE!  Peace with justice for ALL Colombians!

WORSHIP PACKET
Dedicate a worship service to peace with justice for all Colombians.  Included are prayers, songs, poems, stories, reflections, and more.  Click here for a bulletin insert to engage your congregati

 

Join our Colombian sisters and brothers
in moving peace forward!  This packet
includes three ways YOU can make a
difference. 
Advocate for a change in US
policy by writing letters to Congress.
Create a display or craft night and what
steps are needed to  finally bring peace
with justice to Colombia. Demonstrate your
commitment to Colombia with  a public action.